NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition Review
The More Accessible Ampere GPU Still Packs A Mighty Punch
The wait is over. The review embargo for NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition is up today, and when the dust settles from reviews around the web (and the ‘Tube) we will know how close to an RTX 2080 Ti this $499 graphic card can get. (Spoiler: this will vary depending on the game and use of RTX features.)
The second entry in the consumer Ampere GPU lineup after the GeForce RTX 3080, the new GeForce RTX 3070 was originally planned for an October 15 launch, but NVIDIA pushed this back a couple of weeks to October 29.
It could be speculated that this intentionally precedes AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 event by one day, but it could also allow for significantly better availability for the new GPU (we don’t really have to mention RTX 3080 availability woes, do we?).
So what is the RTX 3070, anyhow? Is it a cut-down version of the 3080? No, it is new silicon. Based on the new GA104 GPU, the chip at the heart of the RTX 3070 is about 38% smaller than the RTX 3080’s GA102 GPU (392 mm^2 vs. 628 mm^2), and it should consume significantly less power with a TGP rating of 220W – a full 100W below the RTX 3080’s 320W rating.
As a smaller GPU manufactured on the same custom 8nm Samsung process, there will naturally be fewer Streaming Multiprocessors (SM), and therefore fewer CUDA Cores. The RTX 3080 has an SM count of 68, while the RTX 3070 is equipped with 46.
|RTX 3080||RTX 3070||RTX 2080 Ti||RTX 2080 SUPER||RTX 2080|
|Tensor Cores||272 (2nd Gen)||184 (2nd Gen)||544 (1st Gen)||384 (1st Gen)||368 (1st Gen)|
|RT Cores||68 (2nd Gen)||46 (2nd Gen)||68 (1st Gen)||48 (1st Gen)||46 (1st Gen)|
|Base Clock||1440 MHz||1500 MHz||1350 MHz||1650 MHz||1515 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1710 MHz||1725 MHz||1545 MHz||1815 MHz||1710 MHz|
|Memory||10GB GDDR6X||8GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6|
|Memory Data Rate||19 Gbps||14 Gbps||14 Gbps||15.5 Gbps||14 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||760 GB/s||448 GB/s||616 GB/s||496.1 GB/s||448 GB/s|
|Die Size||628 mm^2||392 mm^2||754 mm^2||545 mm^2||545 mm^2|
|Process Tech||8nm Samsung||8nm Samsung||12nm TSMC||12nm TSMC||12nm TSMC|
From the table above you may notice a big difference in memory technology between RTX 3080 and this RTX 3070, as the latter employs 8GB of conventional GDDR6 on a 256-bit bus, while the former implements 10GB of much faster 19 Gbps GDDR6X on a 320-bit bus.
The effective speed of the RTX 3070’s GDDR6 is 7000 MHz, providing a data rate of 14 Gbps, making the RTX 3070’s memory configuration identical to the previous generation’s RTX 2070 (8GB 256-bit GDDR6 @ 14Gbps).
In addition to the ~32% decrease in CUDA Core count (RTX 3080: 8704, RTX 3070: 5888) it seems reasonable to conclude that memory bandwidth will be a major point of differentiation between these RTX 30 Series GPUs, as the RTX 3080 offers 760 GB/s, while the RTX 3070 is limited to 448 GB/s.
The RTX 3070 Founders Edition Card
A smaller, lighter card compared the RTX 3080 Founders Edition, this new 3070 FE design is a beautiful piece of industrial design (in this editor’s opinion). I mean, just look at it!
It is also a more conventional design compared to the RTX 3080 Founders Edition, as both fans are positioned on the same side this time – though there is still a passthrough heatsink to the right of the PCB.
The RTX 3070 Founders Edition card is down to 9.5 inches (242 mm) in length, which is a reduction of 15% (1.7 inches / 43 mm) compared to the 11.2 inch (285 mm) length of the RTX 3080 FE. Both cards are 4.4 inches (112 mm) tall, with dual-slot width.
The RTX 3070 Founders Edition makes use of the same compact 12-pin power connection that we saw with the 3080 FE, but this time the power requirements are much lower as the GPU can be powered with a single 8-pin PCIe connector (more on power draw later).
On the well-ventilated bracket we see display outputs that mirror those of the RTX 3080 FE, with a trio of DisplayPort 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1 output, and the card supports a maximum resolution of 7680×4320 (“8K”).
The following benchmarks will look familiar if you read the previous RTX 3080 Founders Edition review, wherein I freely admitted that the selection of games leaves quite a bit to be desired. However, the game benchmark suite being in need of an overhaul is not the topic today, as ultimately we want to present a picture of how the RTX 3070 FE stacks up against the RTX 2080 Ti.
Why the 2080 Ti, you ask? Simple. This was the performance level that NVIDIA had showcased during the announcement event back on September 1st, and if this card comes close, that will be quite an achievement given the price delta between those two cards.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO WIFI|
|Memory||HyperX Predator DDR4-3600 CL16 32GB (16GBx2)|
|Storage||Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (1909)|
|Drivers||GeForce GRD 452.06 (1080 Ti/2080 FE/2080 Ti)
GeForce GRD 456.16 (Press Driver, RTX 3080)
GeForce GRD 456.96 (Press Driver, RTX 3070)
Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.8.3
3DMark Time Spy
While 3DMark doesn’t always mirror real-world gaming results, it remains a handy way to measure the relative performance between graphics cards.
First we see results from Time Spy, which is a 2560×1440 resolution test:
Our first benchmark result places the RTX 3070 FE about 11% below the RTX 2080 Ti, and about 22% above the RTX 2080 FE.
Next we check out results from the 3840×2160 resolution Time Spy Extreme test:
Under the more demanding 4K load of Time Spy Extreme the performance gap between the RTX 2080 Ti and this RTX 3070 FE narrows considerably, as they are just ~5.6% apart here. The RTX 3070’s lead over the RTX 2080 FE grows to nearly 30% with this 4K version of the test.
Our first actual game benchmark is quite challenging even at its “high” preset setting (with ultra and extreme lurking above, just waiting to destroy frame rates). Here Metro Exodus was run using the DirectX 12 API at both 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 resolutions.
Results at 1440 are first:
With an average frame rate of 93.79 FPS the RTX 3070 FE sits about 6% below the 2080 Ti Strix OC’s 100.03 FPS average at these settings (all benchmark results are averaged from three identical runs). For its part, the RTX 2080 FE managed 78.42 FPS, which gives the RTX 3070 FE an advantage of nearly 20% over that card in this test.
Next we have results at 4K:
At “4K” (really it’s UHD, but I don’t have to bring that up EVERY time I suppose) the RTX 3070 FE averaged 56.71 FPS, a 7% decrease from the 61.04 FPS result with the RTX 2080 Ti. When comparing the RTX 3070 FE to the older RTX 2080 FE we see an increase of just over 20%.
Of course this is just one DX12 benchmark, and we must move on.
The Division 2
As with Metro Exodus, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 was run using its “high” preset and the DirectX 12 API option, at both 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 resolutions.
We begin with the 1440 results:
Here the RTX 2080 Ti averaged 136.87 FPS, with the RTX 3070 FE close behind at 129.38 FPS. This result is ~5.5% lower than the 2080 Ti, and ~20% higher than the RTX 2080 FE.
Next we look at the 4K result, again using the “high” preset:
This time the RTX 2080 Ti averaged 78.75 FPS, with the RTX 3070 FE 8.5% lower at 72.08 FPS. At this resolution the RTX 3070 FE is again ~20% faster than the RTX 2080 FE.
Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5 is a DX11 game that is getting a little long in the tooth at this point, but when run at the “ultra” preset with HD textures enabled it is a fairly challenging test – at 4K, anyhow.
This game benchmark represents the worst showing for the RTX 3070 FE in this small sample of results, with 68.8 FPS coming in well below the 78.8 FPS with the RTX 2080 Ti – a decrease of roughly 13%. The RTX 3070 FE was 14% faster than the 2080 FE at these settings.
Bright Memory Infinite
This RTX-infused test showcases Bright Memory Infinite, an in-development follow up (still listed as “TBD”) to Bright Memory that currently exists only as a benchmark. It is quite beautiful, and remains the most challenging 2560×1440 test I’ve found to date when set to its highest preset.
Here we will look first at non-DLSS and then DLSS “Quality” preset results, each run at the highest “very high” RTX setting at 2560×1440 resolution:
Here we see that, when ray tracing is added to the mix, the RTX 3070 FE can in fact top the RTX 2080 Ti, with the Bright Memory Infinite Benchmark showcasing a ~10% advantage with or without DLSS. When comparing the 3070 FE to the 2080 FE this lead grows to ~43% without DLSS and ~37% with DLSS enabled.
Boundary RTX Benchmark
Just like Bright Memory Infinite, Boundary RTX is a standalone benchmark from a game still in development. Still, it’s a good test of DLSS-enabled RTX eye candy, and it was run at 2560×1440 with the “Quality” preset toggled:
Here the RTX 2080 Ti maintained a slim 3% advantage over the RTX 3070 FE (53.98 vs. 52.34 FPS), which is just outside of the normal margin of error. The RTX 3070 FE was ~29% faster than the RTX 2080 FE at these settings (52.34 vs. 40.43 FPS).
Power draw was a big point of discussion around the RTX 3080 launch (other than availability, of course), with that card’s 320W TGP causing quite a stir. Have no fear, the RTX 3070 has a much lower TGP of 220W – a reduction of 100W.
The RTX 3070 Founders Edition includes a single PCIe 8-Pin to 12-Pin adapter
Here’s a look at total board power draw from these two 30 Series Founders Edition cards under identical loads:
Total board power as reported by GPUZ topped out at 331.3W with the RTX 3080 FE, and 226.3W with our RTX 3070 FE.
Total system power from our GPU test platform is next, measured at the wall using a Watts Up Pro power meter:
These results speak for themselves. The RTX 3070 Founders Edition consumes less power under load than our RTX 2080 FE, and offers performance closer to our aftermarket RTX 2080 Ti. A total system draw of 343 W with a 10-core CPU in a gaming load is very impressive, to say the least. Part of this low draw is the Ryzen effect, but still.
The RTX 3070 will be much, much easier to deploy than the RTX 3080 given its smaller size and significantly lower power draw (~100W below the 3080 FE), which should make this the go-to high performance small form-factor GPU in the current NVIDIA lineup.
Temps and Noise
The load temperatures from our RTX 3070 Founders Edition sample were very close to the RTX 3080 FE (77 °C), topping out at 74 °C during testing in a ~19.5 °C room (it’s getting colder here in Michigan).
At idle the fans do not spin, and under load the fans never exceeded 50%, with 49% max speed recorded on both fans (1760 RPM) during the thermal tests. Naturally the load temps could drop with higher fan speeds, but the default fan curve produces a nice mix of cooling and very low noise.
Doing some quick noise level testing using an SPL meter positioned just 12 inches from the leading edge of the GPU in an open case, the card was barely audible with a reading of only 31.4 dBA with the fans at 25%, moving up to 35.1 dBA with the fans at 50%. And while the fans did not exceed 50% by default, I did push them to 75% in my testing, which resulted in a reading of 46.7 dBA in this (unrealistic) test.
Both the thermals and (especially) the noise characteristics of the RTX 3070 Founders Edition card are impressive. It’s a solid cooler design.
The GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition is a fantastic performer for $499. In the conventional raster-based graphics benchmarks we ran the 3070 FE averaged an ~8% decrease compared to the performance level of the RTX 2080 Ti, moving to within 4% of the 2080 Ti when factoring in RTX benchmarks as well.
Performance will naturally vary depending on the workload. When ray tracing was added to the mix the RTX 3070 FE can, in fact, top the RTX 2080 Ti, with the Bright Memory Infinite Benchmark showcasing a ~10% advantage with or without DLSS.
I can’t help but wonder how much faster this GA104 GPU might be if given more memory bandwidth, and NVIDIA has given themselves some room for a Ti/Super level GPU between the RTX 3070 and 3080 down the road. Certainly there will be something made of the 8GB framebuffer, particularly if AMD offers more VRAM at/near the same cost.
What we know right now, and by right now I mean October 27, 2020, is that NVIDIA has the GPU to buy at $499 with the RTX 3070 Founders Edition – if you can buy one. Availability – of course – will be a big part of this launch. But what AMD announces on October 28 will be another part of the story, and we only have leaks and rumors on the AMD front at this point.
No matter what AMD announces, the RTX 3070 Founders Edition we reviewed today is a fantastic product. Beautifully designed, quiet under load, reasonable power draw, and nearly as powerful as the RTX 2080 Ti at less than half the cost. If only every GPU launch was like this.
This disclosure statement covers the way the product being reviewed was obtained and the relationship between the product's manufacturer and PC Perspective.
How Product Was Obtained
The GPU is on loan from NVIDIA for the purpose of this review.
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The GPU remains the property of NVIDIA but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.
NVIDIA provided the product sample and technical brief to PC Perspective but had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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